Let me preface this post by saying that my main RAW file converter/processor is Capture One Pro 6 http://www.phaseone.com/en/Software/Capture-One-Pro-6/About/Pro-Overview.aspx by PhaseOne www.phaseone.com, however I have had occasion to use Digital Photo Professional for personal use and for tasks like previewing and selecting the best images for editing.
First step is to check the Preferences
Under the General tab, the only field you really need to be concerned with is ‘Default value of output resolution’. The standard resolution for print is 300 dpi and since print is where the majority of my work is destined, 300 dpi is the default in my workflow.
The next tab is View Settings. If you have your camera set to save both a RAW and JPEG image, two thumbnails will be displayed in the Folder View window. By selecting ‘Display only CR2 images for Cr2 and JPEG files of the same name’, only one will be displayed.
Highlight/shadow warning is handy for checking blown-out highlights or blocked shadows – areas where detail was not recorded or has been lost. If you have a specific target white or black point in your images, it can be set here. When activated under the View menu, a corresponding red or blue mask will be displayed over the areas in your image, which fall out of the set target number range.
Under the Tools palette tab, I set the Default settings of RGB Tone curve mode to Luminance RGB. This will allow you to edit the luminance channel independently from the three colour channels. The luminance channel carries most of the detail in our images. This is helpful if one particular colour needs extra attention without affecting detail in the image.
‘Default noise reduction settings’ is set to Apply camera settings. Since I may be shooting at different ISO’s, choosing a generic default for luminance and chroma noise isn’t the best choice.
The fourth, and perhaps most important tab is Color management. This determines how your images look on-screen or in print.
‘Default setting of Work color space’ is set to Adobe RGB – matching the colour space setting on my cameras. Adobe RGB has a wider color gammut than sRGB, it’s not huge but why not try to get the most out of every pixel. You have to be aware when saving files for the Web that you convert them to sRGB (the color space of web browsers and most monitors) otherwise your images will display incorrectly. If you never shoot for print, you could just leave your camera and DPP colour space set sRGB and forget about it.
‘Color matching settings’ is set to Monitor profile because my monitor(s) are calibrated with Datacolor’s Spyder 3.
‘Printing profile and CMYK simulation profile’ doesn’t really matter unless you want to print directly from DPP – a task best left for Photoshop.
‘Rendering intents when using Easy-PhotoPrint’ is designed for those using Canon printers. It details how the colours should be translated from screen to print. I use Epson printers and can’t comment on this function.
Transferring images to the computer
With the Preferences set, I’m ready to transfer my images from the camera via card reader (Lexar UDMA CF & SD http://www.henrys.com/19694-LEXAR-UDMA-SDHC-And-CF-USB-2-0-READER.aspx) – not directly from the camera with the supplied USB cable. This is simply a personal preference: Compact flash, SD cards and camera eject buttons were designed for heavy use; USB connections can become loose over time; I’d rather not have a weak camera battery die during image transfer, potentially resulting in lost images.
If I have dozens of images to sort, I’ll use the Quick Check Tool to rate the images with a 1, 2 or 3 Check mark:
1. Keepers – images I plan to edit
2. To be determined – would make good second choices
3. Delete – no thanks
You can select all 1, 2 or 3 Check marked images independently via the Edit menu to either delete or edit a bunch of images at the same time.
Still in DPP I’ll adjust the brightness/exposure (if required), white balance (some images look better a little warm), highlights (if the whites are too hot) and finally noise reduction (the default settings are pretty good but I don’t like the luminance set too high as you will lose detail [mine is usually set to 1 or 2]).
I hit the Batch Process button to process an 8-bit TIFF (16 bit is overkill IMO) NOT a JPEG file. JPEG is a lossy format, which means information is thrown out in order to make the file smaller – even at the maximum setting. TIFF files are much larger but contain all the data from the RAW file. You want to be working with the highest resolution file possible.
JPEG’s are used primarily for display purposes or for uploading a large number of images to a print lab. Having said that, I often send hi-res JPEG files to clients via email, but they have been derived from an original TIFF.
With the above settings selected, an 8-bit TIFF file is saved to my desktop and opened automatically in Photoshop for further editing.